Someone wants the people of Chicago at war with one another, and by Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files: Wild Card #4 (Of 6), this mysterious adversary has gone a fair way to achieving that, convincing the White Court, Marconi, and the police force that each has been betrayed by the others. Dresden and Murphy know otherwise, but Murphy is in the hospital, Dresden does not even know where to start looking, and the factions are fast ceasing to care who is really responsible for the mayhem.
Butcher knows how to put his characters in peril, and The Wild Card is ample demonstration of his skill. In a short space of time, he has introduced the different factions, staged the fights, and demonstrated the stakes. Some of this involves pulling in information from previous novels and comics, but the information is skillfully given as Dresden—and now in one case Murphy, narrates.
The point of shifts could be a problem—the view moves from Dresden, to Murphy, to a camera’s look at what is happening elsewhere. Between the narration and Gomez and Powers’ art, the shifts are easy to follow. They allow Butcher and Powers to keep the story concise, confined to what a six-issue comic book can tell rather than attempting to be a novel.
The art is adequate to the story, though often erring on the side of the generic: Murphy, Lea, and Lara should not resemble each other at all, and there are only a couple of male builds allowed. The overview scenes are strong, however, and the design for the assailant—whoever he is—is sufficiently twisted; he is somewhere between clown and killer.
Readers who enjoy The Dresden Files novels will find The Wild Card stories solid additions to the cannon. At the same time, the tale remains sufficiently clear that newcomers can step in and enjoy the combination of police work and wizardry in this urban fantasy.
Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files: Wild Card is out now from Dynamite Comics.
Writers: Jim Butcher & Mark Powers
Art: Carlos Gomez & Sean Izaakse
Cover: Carlos Gomez and Mohan
Letters: Bill Tortolini